A study to characterise the quantity, particle size distribution and morphology of dust created during the machining of MDF was carried out. Four different types of MDF boards were included in this study, including a 'zero-formaldehyde' board that contains isocyanate-based resin, rather than urea-formaldehyde resin. In addition, natural softwood (pine) and natural hardwood (oak) were included in the study, for comparison with MDF. The results show that in general, the dust generated by machining MDF is comparable in terms of particle size distribution and morphology with the dust generated by similarly machining hardwood or softwood. The quantity of dust generated during sanding is higher for sanding MDF compared with sanding either hardwood or softwood. However, for sawing there is no significant difference between MDF and natural woods, in terms of the quantity of dust generated. Free formaldehyde in the air was less than 0.17mg m(-3) during machining of the Class B (higher formaldehyde potential) MDF board. There was no measurable isocyanate in the dust generated from the boards.